The Youth Movement that the Vancouver Canucks have brought along is just the beginning.
The Vancouver Canucks’ struggle for youth has been well documented. Although only two of the “New Era” draftees (Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann) have hit the NHL so far, there is a plenty of evidence that a significant youth movement has settled in on this lineup.
The Canucks find themselves with four skaters under 23 years of age and two currently 23 years old. The four under-23’s have combined for 52 points so far this year over 163 total man-games-played. Include the two 23-year-olds and you get 70 points in 213 total man-games-played.
But this is just the beginning. And you know it too.
Perhaps the years of finishing in the league’s top-five under GM Mike Gillis and Coach Alain Vigneault have numbed us to how great a pain it is to raise the next generation of winners. We see the struggle embodied in our Pacific Division “rival” Edmonton Oilers. Not much more to be said there.
Vancouver has 11 players in the lineup under 27 years old.
There is not refuting that the team is getting younger. According to Stats.Nhlnumbers.com, the 2014-15 Canucks squad was the 10th oldest in the league.
This year, the Canucks are the 15th oldest team in the NHL, and considering the number of “ancient” players — players 34 and older — the Canucks are carrying, that is a great feat for Benning & Co. You know that.
But it is just the beginning. How? Simple — Virtanen has just 26 games of NHL experience. So here it is, the Canucklehead Lament, on the labouring NHL-level youth development work that lies ahead for the Vancouver Canucks.
Who cares if they get into the NHL? They need to stick around.
Alright, let’s start with some questions. Guess how many Vancouver draft picks in the past five years have seen NHL action.
Guess how many of them played more than 10 NHL games.
Guess how many are playing with the Canucks right now.
What does that tell me? The Canucks have not had success developing their picks — at least during the last years of the Gillis regime. Nicklas Jensen and Jordan Schroeder fell out of favour with the new regime and are still struggling to find favours with their new teams.
The Canucks cannot afford to make any more mistakes in player development. They have two top-10 overall picks on their roster right now — Virtanen and Bo Horvat. They have a fifth-round steal in Ben Hutton, the only NHL-calibre defenceman drafted and developed by the Canucks in the past 11 years (the last one being Alex Edler in 2004). Don’t forget about McCann.
So for this week’s Canucklehead Lament, here is my take on how the Canucks should perfect the youth movement in the development of these four precious players.
Next: No. 1: Perfecting the Development of Bo Horvat